Michael Oberline

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Michael Oberline
Michael Oberline.jpg
Governor of Illinois
Former candidate
PartyConstitution Party
Military service
Service/branchUnited States Marine Corps
BirthdayOctober 5, 1948
Place of birthDecatur, Illinois
ProfessionSecurity and Law Enforcement
Michael Oberline was a Constitution Party candidate for Governor of Illinois in the 2014 elections.[1] Oberline failed to qualify for the general election ballot after the Constitution Party's ballot access petitions were ruled invalid by the Illinois State Board of Elections on August 22. The Libertarian Party was the only minor party to survive the signature challenge.[2]


Oberline was born in Decatur, Illinois on October 5, 1948, and raised in and around Springfield. In January of 1966, as a 17-year-old high school dropout, he passed the Illinois Civil Service exam and went to work as a file clerk for the Illinois Department of Mental Health. On his 18th birthday he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. Upon returning to the United States, he was assigned as an instructor training military personnel and civilian police Special Weapons and Tactics teams. After almost seven years of service and two tours in Vietnam where he earned a Bronze Star for valor, a Purple Heart, and his GED, he left the Marine Corps. Oberline spent the rest of his career working in security and law enforcement, during which time he attended college. He ran his own security and private investigation companies, worked in executive and witness protection, and was a supervisor for Pan American Airline’s antiterrorist unit at LAX. He also worked as a volunteer police officer and certified police firearms instructor. Oberline retired in 2011.[3]



See also: Illinois Gubernatorial and Lieutenant Gubernatorial election, 2014

Oberline ran for election to the office of Governor of Illinois.[1] Oberline was kicked off the ballot on August 22, when the Constitution Party was disqualified from the November ballot for insufficient valid petition signatures. The general election takes place November 4, 2014.

Race background

Current incumbent Pat Quinn, a Democrat who went from lieutenant governor to governor following Rod Blagojevich's 2009 impeachment, is facing re-election in 2014. Quinn ran for, and won, a full term in 2010 and is running for his second full four-year term. According to multiple outside ratings, Quinn is among the most vulnerable governors in the 2014 electoral cycle.[4]

Quinn's 2010 running-mate and first term incumbent Lt. Gov Sheila Simon (D) announced in February 2013 that she would not run for re-election in 2014. Simon said she wanted to seek a new office that would allow her to have a "greater impact," and later declared her candidacy for state comptroller.[5][6] Simon's thinly veiled swipe at the office's unsatisfactory "impact" potential was followed shortly thereafter by the Illinois House of Representatives' approval of a proposal seeking to eliminate the position of lieutenant governor altogether by constitutional amendment. In order for the measure to be passed, it must win approval of both the State Senate and Illinois voters. If the proposal is approved in a statewide public vote, the office will remain intact for one final term following the 2014 election.[7] Quinn said he wanted “a people person” to replace Simon, and ultimately settled on former Chicago public schools chief Paul Vallas.[8]

The 2014 electoral cycle marked the first time in Illinois history that candidates for the offices of governor and lieutenant governor ran on a single ticket in the primary election phase. Spurred by the 2010 election fiasco when Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor Scott Lee Cohen had to drop out of the race after being arrested on charges of steroid use and domestic battery, the new joint ticket rule was enacted to support the notion of a critical governor-lieutenant governor partnership. In theory, allowing governor hopefuls to handpick their running mates for the primary would induce the campaigns to "better define their priorities for voters and cover more ground as election season gets underway."[8]

As of September 2014, Illinois is one of 13 Democratic state government trifectas. In such a blue state, it was expected that Quinn's biggest threat in 2014 would come from a fellow Democrat; namely, from Democrats William "Bill" Daley, a past U.S. Commerce Secretary and White House chief of staff and attorney general Lisa Madigan, both of whom were considered strong potential primary challengers. Quinn dodged both bullets, however, by September 2013. First Madigan dropped her long anticipated bid in June in order to seek another term as attorney general[9][10][11] After brief consideration,[12] Then in September, after a promising first stretch of campaigning, Daley abruptly ended his campaign for the Democratic nomination.[11] Called "a member of Chicago's first political family," for his relation to two of Chicago's longest-reigning mayors, Daley's departure in particular was a coup for Quinn, whose apparently bleak re-election prospects improved markedly in his absence.[13]

Quinn is the fifth out of a total of 46 previous Illinois lieutenant governors to have succeeded to the governorship mid-term. As governor, Quinn has emphasized improving the state government's ethical standards and protecting public-sector labor unions. His tenure thus far has been marred by steep, deeply unpopular budget cuts and tax increases stemming from long-term state debt among other issues that have factored into his status among the least popular governors facing re-election in 2014.[14]

Primary review, cross-party vote phenomenon

On September 3, individuals aiming to qualify for a slot on the March 2014 primary ballot began gathering signatures. The filing period for major party primary candidates ended on December 2, 2013, with only one Democrat, Tio Hardiman, filing to go up against Quinn. On the Republican end, candidates included state Sens. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard, state treasurer Dan Rutherford and venture capitalist Bruce Rauner. Early polls showed Rutherford as the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, but Rauner rocketed ahead of the pack by November 2013 and maintained a 15-point average lead up to the March primary, which he won.[15]

A newcomer to politics, Rauner achieved the name recognition he needed to overcome his more established opponents with the help of massive campaign contributions totaling nearly $14 million, including $6 million of his own money—the highest amount a candidate has ever spent on his own primary campaign for governor in Illinois.[16][17]

Unofficial results from the March 18 primaries revealed some steep deviations from typical voting behaviors recorded in past elections. Based on the breakdown of votes in the Republican and Democratic gubernatorial primaries provided by the Chicago Tribune on election night, Ballot Access News analyzed what appeared to be a spectacularly low turnout of Democratic voters (438,112 votes) in the party's nominally contested primary. They detected that hundreds of thousands of Democratic voters must have taken advantage of the state's mixed-hybrid primary system to vote the Republican ballot instead of their own. Under Illinois' primary rules, voters can change parties each year but must declare a party affiliation at the polls. Depending on which party is chosen, the voter will then be counted as registered for that party. Voters may change party affiliation at polls or caucus.[18]

The mass cross-over by Democrats was linked to one specific issue highlighted in this year's GOP governor's race: government employee unions. Most of the Democrats who participated in the Republican primary did so in order to ensure Kirk Dillard, who has sided with the unions in the state senate, would lose to Bruce Rauner, who has promised to curtail union influence.[19]

In Illinois, the last time more votes were cast in the Republican than the Democratic gubernatorial primary was 1986; not since the 1940s have so few votes been cast in a Democratic gubernatorial primary election. Compared to the last five Illinois gubernatorial elections, there was no significant spike in Republican votes this year, indicating the trend reversal was caused by a tremendous drop in Democratic gubernatorial primary votes cast.[19]

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  1. 1.0 1.1 Independent Political Report, "Constitution Party of Illinois nominates statewide candidates," March 24, 2014
  2. Ballot Access News, "Libertarian Party Statewide Slate Will Appear on Illinois Ballot," August 22, 2014
  3. Information submitted by the candidate on June 27, 2014
  4. Governing Politics, "2013-2014 Governor's Races: Who's Vulnerable?," December 11, 2012
  5. Chicago Tribune, "Simon will not run again for lieutenant governor," February 13, 2013
  6. Chicago Magazine, "What Happens After Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon Quits Pat Quinn’s Team," March 26, 2013
  7. The Chicago Tribune, "House votes to eliminate lieutenant governor post," April 12, 2013
  8. 8.0 8.1 CBS Local - Chicago, "2014 Governor Candidates To Choose Running Mates," August 24, 2013
  9. Capitol Fax, "This just in… Lisa Madigan announces re-election bid," July 15, 2013
  10. Governing, "William Daley Considering Bid for Illinois Governor," December 21, 2012
  11. 11.0 11.1 Chicagobusiness.com, "Daley files paperwork for governor run," June 10, 2013
  12. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named dropout
  13. New Jersey Herald, "Daley: Exit from race doesn't mean I couldn't win," September 17, 2013
  14. St. Louis Today, "Illinois Gov. Quinn 2nd least popular incumbent going into 2014," April 9, 2013
  15. CapitolFax.com, "Capitol Fax/We Ask America Poll - Poll shows Rauner movement," July 8, 2013
  16. Crain's Chicago Business, "How Bruce Rauner won the GOP primary," March 19, 2014
  17. Peoria Public Radio, "How the self-funding of Rauner's campaign is impacting the race for Governor," March 12, 2014
  18. Chicago Tribune, "Election Calendar, Primary Results," last updated March 18, 2014
  19. 19.0 19.1 Ballot Access News, "Shockingly Low Turnout in Illinois Democratic Primary Suggests Many Democrats Voted in Republican Primary," March 20, 2014